William D. Snider, MD
William D. Snider, MD

William Snider, MD, professor of neurology and founding director of the UNC Neuroscience Center, will retire from the UNC School of Medicine effective February 1. He will continue to teach two courses that he developed for the new undergraduate neuroscience major at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“We are extremely thankful for Bill’s visionary leadership of the UNC Neuroscience Center over the past two decades. As part of his research program, Bill made fundamental discoveries relating to neurotrophin signaling in sensory neurons and RAF/MEK/ERK pathway activation during brain development,” said Mark Zylka, PhD, current director of the UNC Neuroscience center and the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology. “We’re thrilled he will continue to teach at UNC and inspire the next generation of neuroscientists.”

Snider was recruited from Washington University in St. Louis in 1999 to start the UNC Neuroscience Center. Under the leadership of former school of medicine dean Jeffrey Houpt, MD, Snider recruited neuroscience faculty from around the country and centralized UNC’s neuroscience research efforts under one roof in the Neuroscience Research Building. The recruitment of top faculty continued over the course of Snider’s 17 years as center director, as the center has became a focal point for a number of campus activities including a long-running weekly seminar series and an annual symposium. Snider also established the Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, a $20,000 award and lecture to shine a spotlight on seminal achievements of great scientists from around the world and to honor Dr. Edward Perl.

“I am extremely optimistic about the future of the neuroscience center under the leadership of Mark Zylka and associate director Ben Philpot,” Snider said. “Both are world experts in their respective fields, and they are recruiting extremely talented new faculty.”

The center has been allocated new space in the remodeled Mary Ellen Jones Building in close proximity to the Biomedical Engineering (BME) department. “This location will foster collaborations that will be an important new direction in neuroscience in the years to come,” Snider said.